Cape Town Has 110 Days Before They Run Out of Water

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A security officer directs residents as they fill water bottles and containers. Courtesy of

Marcella Barneclo, Staff Writer

The four million citizens of Cape Town, South Africa are limited to 50 litres (around 13 gallons) of water daily as Cape Town is rapidly running out of water according to reports by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Predictions say faucets will run dry on June 4, 2018.

Cape Town has been suffering from a severe drought for three years and city planners have known that the growth of the population was exceeding the available water resources. Currently, less than 10 percent of Cape Town’s usable water remains.

As of Feb. 13, 2018, Cape Town has been using 526 million litres per day, an improvement from two years ago when more than a billion litres were being used daily, according to Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance.  

In Jan. of 2018, citizens of Cape Town saw level six restrictions on water take hold, giving them 87 litres (about 23 gallons) a day. Compared to an average American who uses 302 to 378 litres (eight to 10 gallons) daily, these restrictions are becoming increasingly serious.

Previous restrictions have been made ranging as far back as June of 2017, but as the situation grows dire, restrictions are becoming far more strict and residents may be fined if they do not comply.

Residents are struggling to adhere to water restrictions. Only an estimated 54 percent of the city’s residents are reaching or staying below the designated limit. The water they receive must be used for dishes, laundry, a 90 second shower, one toilet flush, cooking, and drinking, requiring residents to prioritize.

The government is busy attempting to modernize Cape Town’s water system through constructing desalination, aquifers, and water-recycling projects that will help to conserve what water is left. Though it is unlikely that these structures will be functional before ‘Day Zero’ is declared.  

If ‘Day Zero’ should arrive, citizens will be even further rationed. They will be restricted to using only 25 litres (6.6 gallons) per day and faucets will no longer deliver water. Residents will only be able to collect their water from one of 200 stations, each station having to care for the water needs of 20,000 Capetonians. However, facilities such as hospitals, health facilities, and schools in the Metro area will remain with running water.

‘Day Zero’ will continue until Cape Town receives enough rainfall to replenish enough of their water reservoirs.

The lack of water has been declared a national disaster and the African National Congress has attempted to spearhead relief efforts. Des van Rooyen, co-operative governance minister, has said that more than 70m rand ($5.8 m) has been put towards helping the crisis in Cape Town provinces.